Abu Dhabi transfers Etihad ownership to sovereign wealth fund ADQ

Abu Dhabi said it will transfer ownership of state carrier Etihad Airways to sovereign wealth fund ADQ in an effort to better integrate a broad range of aviation activities and boost the sheikdom’s status as a transport hub.

Following the move, disclosed on Tuesday, ADQ will have interests ranging from the passenger airline, air freight, aircraft engineering and ground handling to ownership of Abu Dhabi Airports and a stake in a venture with Wizz Air Holdings Plc. It also oversees other key transport activities including Abu Dhabi Ports.

ADQ, which has $110 billion of assets, will take over responsibility for Etihad from Abu Dhabi’s Supreme Council for Financial and Economic Affairs. The transfer follows a previous acquisition of some Etihad operations in 2021.

Etihad dropped plans to compete as an intercontinental super-hub in 2017 after the strategy led to billions of dollars of losses.

While a decision to focus more on the needs of Abu Dhabi required the carrier to downsize, it emerged leaner and more competitive, riding out the coronavirus crisis more easily than most other carriers and posting a record profit in the first half.

There have been question marks over the future of Etihad Chief Executive Officer Tony Douglas in recent weeks, with the airline hiring a recruitment agency to seek a successor amid concern that he may leave to head up a new airline being launched by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign Public Investment Fund.

ADQ on Monday proposed the consolidation of existing shareholdings in assets including Etihad Engineering and aviation-services firm Ammroc with Abu Dhabi Aviation Co. in a transaction that would give it 59 percent ownership of the latter.

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